BERKELEY -- One of the theories about Cal's offense this season is that wide receivers Lavelle Hawkins and Robert Jordan could thrive with all of the attention directed toward preseason All-American DeSean Jackson. It only took one game for that hypothesis to be validated. Jackson was relatively quiet with four catches for 45 yards during the Bears' 45-31 win over Tennessee on Saturday, but Hawkins made a serious impact with seven catches for 90 yards and a touchdown. "If they want to double-team DeSean, that leaves me and Rob open," Hawkins said. "It's pick your poison." Among Cal's top receivers, Hawkins actually was the quietest during training camp. He only caught a handful of passes during 11-on-11s and scrimmages, but he demonstrated Saturday that he's perhaps poised to build on last season's productivity when he caught 46 balls for 705 yards and five TDs. "He's one of those guys who has a great feel for the game and knows where defenses are," Cal quarterback Nate Longshore said. "He found his spots and was open." Hawkins also handled four of Cal's six kickoff returns and averaged 21.8 yards. True freshman Jahvid Best also returned two kicks for 57 yards. "Lavelle made some big catches," coach Jeff Tedford said. "He did a nice job with kick returns. Having him and Jahvid kind of go back and forth with kick returns, those are two explosive guys. I thought for the most part, Lavelle played pretty smart. I thought he played very, very hard."
A look ahead
The first obvious question is whether Cal will suffer a letdown when it travels to Colorado State on Saturday. The Rams went 4-8 last season and have lost eight in a row overall.
CSU lost its opener in overtime to Colorado, 31-28 in Denver. Rams defensive tackle Erik Sandie is a De La Salle High School graduate who knows all about the meaning of beating Cal. "It's really redemption week for us. What better way to do it than to beat Cal?," Sandie told the Denver Post. "Hopefully, they beat Tennessee and they think we're going to be a joke. We'll come out swinging." CSU coach Sonny Lubick saw the tape of Jackon's dazzling 77-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Vols but said he has no plans on punting away from him. "We'll probably punt to him. That's what most of you would like to see, right?" he asked CSU reporters Monday. "The fans come and pay. I don't want you booing if we punt it out of bounds." Jackson's return Saturday came on his first attempt of the game. Tennessee punted away from him the rest of the night.
Tedford said kicker Tom Schneider, who pulled a quadriceps muscle warming up for Saturday's game, is doubtful for the CSU game. Jordan Kay filled in against Tennessee and was 6-for-6 on his extra point attempts and added a 27-yard field goal. ... This week's Associated Press Top 25 won't be released until today because two NCAA Division I games were played Monday night -- Texas Tech at SMU and Florida State at Clemson. ... The injury to Tennessee defensive end Xavier Mitchell, who was carted off the field late in Saturday's game, wasn't as serious as originally feared. He was diagnosed with a concussion and told the Knoxville News Sentinel on Monday that he felt fine.